Denver begins trying first “revenge porn” case

(Photo: Denver DA's Office)

(Photo: Denver DA's Office)

DENVER — Denver began trying its first “revenge porn” case Friday, but much of the state was still waiting to hear the details of the case or how prosecutors would approach it.

Michael Clasen, 26, appeared in court Friday to be advised of the six charges against him, which included two counts of criminal mischief, two counts of stalking, possession of an illegal weapon and perhaps the most-compelling charge: posting an image for harassment.

It’s the first such charge to be filed in the state after the Governor John Hickenlooper signed the so-called “revenge porn” bill into law on May 29.

FOX31 Denver requested Clasen’s arrest affidavit detailing the charges against him, but the Denver District Attorney’s Office only provided the details of the five other charges.

That affidavit included victim statements accusing Clasen of damaging a motion detector at his 19-year-old ex-girlfriend’s home, slashing tires of vehicles at her mother’s house after she moved back home, and repeatedly placing spike strips on the driveway of at least two residences she occupied.

Clasen’s alleged harassment of that ex-girlfriend apparently also spilled over into cyberspace, according to the final charge he is facing.

Since details of that charge have not been released, the media has been left to speculate about how Clasen violated the new law.

For starters, Section I on the “revenge porn” law deals with whether the accused posted private content in a public forum for harassment purposes or for pecuniary gain (i.e. for a profit or monetary gain). Based on the charges, it appears Clasen has been accused of posting content for harassment purposes.

Regardless of the motivation, the offense is classified as a Class I misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to two years in jail.

In order to be charged under the “revenge porn” law in the first place, Clasen had to have brought some form of private content into a public forum without having “obtained the depicted person’s consent” or when he “should have known that the depicted person had a reasonable expectation that the image would remain private.”

In addition, the posted content had to have shown “private intimate parts,” which are defined as one might expect, and had to have been posted to “social media.”

The law defines social media as “any electronic medium, including an interactive computer service, telephone network, or data network, that allows users to create, share, and view user-generated content, including but not limited to videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant messages, electronic mail, or internet web site profiles.”

Section II of the new law deals with conviction records. If Clasen is convicted of “revenge porn,” this sections states he can petition the court to have this particular conviction record sealed after a period of five years.

As of Friday, Clasen was currently being held on $50,000 bond. His next court appearance — a preliminary hearing — has been scheduled for late July.